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‘Let Me In’: A terrifying adaptation

Even though he decided to tackle the English-language remake of “Let the Right One In” long before the Swedish vampire movie became a cult favorite in the U.S., Matt Reeves was aware of the hurdle facing him. “It suddenly got very big, and I thought, ‘There’s going to be a lot more focus.’ It was terrifying.”

As it turned out, Reeves rose to the challenge. Resisting the temptation to overly Americanize the dark preadolescent romance, Reeves kept the two protagonists’ ages roughly the same as in Tomas Alfredson’s original and retained a Gothic, snowy locale. In the process, the “Cloverfield” director created a kind of spiritual companion to the first movie.

Focusing on Ellie, a young and gender-ambiguous vampire, her human soul mate Oskar and her older, beaten-down caretaker, “Let the Right One In” galvanized audiences with its clever, tender take on the vampire myth. “Let Me In” follows in much the same footsteps, changing the youngsters’ names to Abby ( Chloe Moretz) and Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and switching the setting to a wintry New Mexico town — but keeping the original’s mood and arc.

“If you were to adapt [John Ajvide] Lindqvist’s original novel in its full complexity, the movie would be a 10-hour miniseries,” Reeves says. “But I tried to put in everything I thought was important.” He adds: “It’s a balancing act. You don’t want to change anything for change’s sake, but you do want to personalize it.”

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Among the elements the “Cloverfield” director did include are the more serious themes of youthful sexuality, teenage bullying and Reagan-era alienation, all of which are present in his film just beneath the stylishly constructed genre surface. “The great thing about any genre movie is that you take something ridiculous like vampires but then you smuggle in all these things that are very real.”

Opening: Oct. 1

—Steven Zeitchik


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